Pit Bull offers renewal to Navy veteran and domestic abuse survivor

Pit Bull offers renewal to Navy veteran and domestic abuse survivor

Lillies are symbolically associated with renewal. So when Alicia fell in love with an adult Pit Bull mix named Lily, it felt like destiny.

No fear at sea

Alicia served in the United States Navy from 1980 to 1984.

The population of women in the military has grown over time. Even so, women still only make up about 16 percent of the armed forces. As a trailblazer in the Navy, Alicia served in a training squadron.

“I worked in a man’s role for most of my enlistment,” she says.

During her tour of duty Alicia was promoted to aviation structural mechanic. In this role she wielded her expertise on the TA-4J Skyhawk – a light attack aircraft – and T-39 Sabreliner. She was rightly proud to be among the few women serving in this military occupational specialty.

Troubled waters

Despite her professional successes Alicia’s service was marked by challenges both on and off duty. She found herself trapped in an abusive marriage, battling isolation.

About one third of female veterans are believed to experience domestic abuse – or intimate partner violence – during their lifetimes.

“I married a very awful man who was mentally and physically abusive to me,” she shares.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) afflicts an estimated 23 percent of veterans. Yet as many as 84 percent of domestic violence survivors are believed to experience PTSD at some point in their lives.

Alicia would become part of that troubling statistic.

“I suffered from anxiety and PTSD being away from my support system, and only having him around me,” she says. “He would not allow me to have any friends.”

A time for renewal

Eventually Alicia moved from the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan to Southeast Tennessee. It was there that she began volunteering at Monroe County Friends of Animals.

Since 2012 the shelter offers veterans in our program fee-waived adoptions. Adopters must adopt eligible dogs and cats, those typically most overlooked.

Alicia is clear on her inspiration to adopt a companion pet.

“I wanted to experience unconditional love,” she explains, “as the people I’ve chosen in my life have turned out to be disappointments.”

“…a joy in my life”

In the summer of 2019 Alicia met a dog through her volunteerism at the shelter. At the time, Lily was a two-and-a-half year-old jet black Pit Bull mix with a tuft of white fur on her chest.Pit Bull offers renewal to Navy veteran and domestic abuse survivor

After spending some time with Lily, Alicia made the decision to adopt her.

“She has been a joy in my life,” the Navy veteran shares.

“I love that she smiles at me when I call her name and that she sleeps with me most nights. I love our walks in the evening.”

Caring for a pet requires discipline and routine.

These predictable, everyday activities can help veterans adapt to civilian life after the rigors of military culture. It can help those coping with various mental challenges, like PTSD, as well.

For others, pets are a source of comfort and emotional connection.

In Alicia’s case, Lily became the embodiment of unconditional love and healing. She signaled the start of this abuse survivor’s renewal.

Room for more four-legged love

Once she experienced the joy that Lily brought into her life Alicia decided to grow her family. She would adopt Mingo, Lily’s adoring dog brother, and three affectionate cats.

The Navy veteran’s home became a sanctuary of love and renewal for once broken souls.

Pets for Patriots gives veterans like Alicia the transformative power of pet companionship. The Navy veteran offers a resounding endorsement to those considering companion pet adoption.

“Adopting a pet is a very rewarding experience,” she shares. “It gives you [a] purpose to live, and to take care of something that is very dependent on you.”

Every human and every animal deserve someone devoted to their wellbeing. Lily needed someone to show her that her life has value. And Alicia, in turn, needed the same.

Now the Navy veteran starts each day with a sense of renewal, thanks to a rescue dog.

“She gives me a purpose,” Alicia says, “to wake up every morning.”


  1. Esther Nunley

    Alicia, it gives me great joy to read your story that you have so wonderfully shared. I know you from working with you at the Monroe County Animal shelter. I say “with you” loosely because we share the same compassion for homeless animals. We don’t necessarily see each other even though we work together toward the same goal. Thank you for your service to our country and thank you for your service to the animals.

  2. Steve G.

    Alicia, thank you for your service. It’s wonderful that you have been rewarded with so much love! You’re an inspiration!

  3. John A. Smaldone


    Very warming story, sounds like Alicia is getting her life back to being a happy camper finally! 2 Dogs and 3 Cats, Alicia not only has a lot of company to occupy her time and mind, but a lot of work to keep her very busy!

    Alicia, not only thank you for your service to our country, but congratulations for pulling yourself out of a terrible situation you had in your life!

    God Bless Alicia,


  4. C Kurz

    Thank you for your service, Alicia! You deserve the love these pets are giving you. All the best to all of you!

  5. C Kurz

    Thank you for your service, Alicia! 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 You deserve the love these pets are giving you. All the best to all of you! ♥️🐾♥️

  6. MJ

    Alicia, you’re to be commended for your service and for taking the steps needed to heal yourself in adopting Lily and your other rescues. God bless you in all that you do.

  7. Carolyn J Miller

    A woman who “took the pets by the horns” to save their lives and heal and nurture herself. Congratulations to you and all the special cats and dogs you’ve brought into your heart and home.


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